Bible · Bible study · Book Review · doubt · exegesis · help · How to Study the Bible · scripture

Book Review: Evidence that Demands a Verdict

The Reason

I’m fairly certain I went to Seminary because God knew who my child would be. The questions that he asks day after day after day are astounding to me.

I’m also fairly certain I went to Seminary because God knew who my friends were going to be. I am constantly amazed at the number of “Hey! I have a Bible question” phone calls and texts I receive. On the regular.

This book helps. A lot.

The Book

I love books. This is no surprise to anyone. A very (shamefully very) long time ago, I was sent Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World in order to review it.

I am sure the publishers rue the day they contacted me on Twitter to ask if I was interested in reviewing this “completely updated and expanded classic” version of the Josh McDowell classic work. Let me apologize now for the extreme length of time this has taken. 

I love this book.

This is a wonderful resource to own if you have children, if you teach, if you regularly handle God’s Word, if you study the Bible…basically, if you are a Christ-follower who interacts with anyone, this is a great book for you. Laid out in a simple “question and answer” format, it is an easy book to use for finding answers.

The Layout

This book is laid out like a giant outline. You remember outlines, right? Those prefaces to writing papers way back in high school? Yes, those! Evidence is divided into four main “Evidence” categories: the Bible, Jesus, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Each of those categories covers a number of “frequently asked questions” about those topics, including both biblical and extra-biblical answers. 

Some of my favorite sections include Gnosticism, translation issues, how we got the Bible (this is SUCH a common question that every Christian should be able to address), the historical evidence of Jesus (again – He really did walk the earth! Books other than the Bible prove it!), how the Old Testament is important, and postmodernism. 

Ha! And that’s not all of the topics! But I love how each topic is addressed with thoroughness, patience, kindness, and tons of provable information. Don’t believe these guys? They point you outside of the book to further resources. 

The physicality of the book is fabulous. The book has high quality paper that accepts highlighting and notes without bleeding through. The print is large and easy-to-read. Authors refrain from using super-hard-to-understand theological terms, and there is a extensive bibliography for those who would like to pursue more answers.

The Topics

Numerous topics are covered in Evidence. What I especially appreciate is the update to include modern-day theologians (a response to Bart Ehrman is included in an appendix), modern-day issues (postmodern thought, anyone?), addressing the skeptics of our age (could we live in a more skeptical time?), and newer historical and archaeological discoveries. 

Has anyone ever asked you to defend your faith without using Scripture? This will help you. What prophecies from the Old Testament did Jesus fulfill? Turn to page 205 and find out. Quick! What about (apparent) contradictions in Scripture? There’s a whole chapter covering this!

The Purpose

I’m sure I should have started with this, but this book is superb because of its stated purpose. Josh McDowell explains very well why he wrote this book.  He also addresses the need for an update. I have the older version; I bet many of you do, too. But the McDowells wanted to help believers with more current issues: terrorism, the New Atheist movement, humanists and their attack on everything sacred. Suffice it to say, determining whether Christ is historical or a hoax is very pertinent to our modern society. He is the foundation of our beliefs, after all.

I love what he says on page xviii: “Our motivation in using this research is to glorify and magnify Jesus Christ, not to win an argument. Evidence is not for proving the Word of God, but rather for providing a reasoned basis for faith.” In today’s “I hate you because we disagree on social media” society, this is a goal every Christian should have: providing a reasoned basis for faith.

As I stated earlier, I use this book as a resource for answering questions. I am sure I could use it to mount an attack on people in my life. However, that is not the best way to evangelize or teach. Being able to send my son to the shelf, however, and teach him how to use a resource like this is priceless.

The Recommendation

Obviously, I highly recommend this book. It is not a “sit down and read straight through” kind of book. It’s a “what did my pastor just say, I need to look that up” kind of resource. It’s a “Mommy! I heard about X today; does that go against the Bible” kind of help. 

Charts, timelines, well thought out answers, and great organization make this an incredibly well loved and well used addition to your bookshelf. Comparison of creation accounts across religions? Yes. Epic of Gilgamesh vs. Noah’s Flood? Yes. Historical evidence for the apostles, the early church, and events throughout all Scripture? Indeed.

Go Buy the Book

I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my (very, very, shamefully very) late review. All comments and opinions are my own, however. Thank you to the authors for the book, and for the patience in the face of “She probably stole this book and we’ll never hear from her again.” (Seriously – so very sorry).

You can buy this book from Josh McDowell’s website, Amazon (not an affiliate link), and Christianbook.com, among other places. This would make a fantastic Christmas present for an inquisitive student, a lay leader in the church who teaches a lot of Bible, or anyone struggling with “I need evidence.”

McDowell, Josh, and McDowell, Sean. Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.

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